Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘Cross

1 Corinthians 13:5b
GrudgesHow do you deal with people who hurt you?  Do you talk to them about it or do you keep quiet but hold a grudge against them?  Do you think of ways to get back at them?

God is clear about how we should act when someone hurts us.  We don’t keep rehashing what happened. We don’t wish that person harm.  Instead, we put away the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.  We give them to God.  We let go of the negative thoughts and ill feelings.  We ask God to help us to forgive the person and then move on.

Of course, this is easier said than done.  We need the help of the Holy Spirit to help us.  It is not in our nature to show love when we are hurting.  We prefer to lick our wounds and have a pity party.  We feel better when we imagine how that person would feel if we were to do the same thing to him or her.  How does this make us any different from those who are not of the faith?  How could we say that we belong to Christ or that we are God’s children if we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive the wrongs that has been done to us?

What if Joseph had spent all of his time hating Potiphar’s wife for what she had done to him?  Would God have prospered him, promoting him to be in charge of the jail or becoming second only to Pharaoh? What about Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego?  Did they harbor any bitterness toward King Nebuchadnezzar for throwing them into the fiery furnace?

Instead of thinking evil, in love we pray for those who have wronged us.  We pray that God will touch their hearts.  Jesus prayed for His enemies when He was hanging on the cross.  Stephen prayed for the men who were stoning him before he died.

The next time someone hurts you, what will you do?  Perhaps like Joseph you ask this question, “am I in the place of God?”  While Joseph forgave his brothers he left them to God’s mercy.  Romans 12:19 says, “Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’” (J.B. Phillips).  Don’t take the place of God.  God sees and knows all.  He will deal with the person who has wronged you as He sees fit.  Don’t repay evil with evil.

 

Read John 1:35-42

p_0003John the Baptist, when he was with his two disciples, acknowledged Jesus as the Lamb of God–thereby, revealing the Messiah to his disciples.  Immediately, the two disciples followed Jesus.  They heard what John had said and heeded his words.  How many of us have heard about Jesus and know of what He did on the cross but still don’t follow Him?  How many of us have been given the opportunity to know Him but have decided not to?  Our indecision is a decision in itself.  Andrew and the other disciple seized the opportunity to follow Jesus–to have a relationship with Him.  They left John who had prepared the way for others to follow the Messiah.  They didn’t doubt John.  In faith, they took him at his word, believed that the One he pointed out was the Messiah and they went after Him.

Jesus saw them following Him and He asked them what they were looking for.  He already knew because He was omniscient but, perhaps He wanted them to state their reason.  What would you say to Him if He were to ask you, “What seek ye?”

The disciples’ question answered Jesus’ question.  They wanted to abide with Him so they asked Him where He was dwelling.  Jesus invited them to go and see.  They were willing to be with Him wherever He was.  They went with Him to see where He was staying and they stayed with Him.  How many of us are willing to leave the past behind and pursue a new life–a future with Jesus? How many of us are willing to forsake our old lives for a new one with Jesus?  How many of us are willing to leave the familiar and comfortable behind and pursue the unfamiliar and sometimes hard, uncomfortable future?  Yet, Andrew and the other disciple did so.  They left their familiar life with John whom they knew, to follow Jesus whom they did not know but had long heard of.  Their faith in God’s promise of the Messiah and John’s testimony led them to go after Jesus.  We have more than John’s testimony and those of the prophets.  We have the testimony of Jesus Himself yet many of us do not follow Him.

Andrew went to his brother, Peter and told him that he and the other disciple had found the Messiah.  He took Peter to Jesus.  When we find Jesus, like Andrew, we should be eager to share Him with others.  When Jesus saw Peter, He identified him as the son of Jona and named him Cephas (Peter) which means stone.  It was Peter whom He asked to feed His sheep.  It is interesting that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him in front of the other disciples.  Why did Jesus do that?

Was it to give Peter a chance to redeem himself?  Was it to show Peter that though he had denied Him three times it by no means meant that he didn’t love Him?  Was it to reassure Peter who might have questioned his love for Jesus because of his denial?  Was it to show Peter and the others that despite what had happened that Jesus had forgiven him and still wanted him to be a big part of His flock?  He wanted Peter to carry on the ministry–to spread the Gospel–to feed the lambs and the sheep.

Peter denied Jesus three times and three times he was forgiven.  My study Bible says that Peter had been restored privately and personally but now it was to be a public matter.  He had disowned Christ in public three times.  Now he must own Christ three times in front of the other disciples.  Peter had sinned but Christ forgave him.  Handling the responsibility of Christ’s ministry was Peter’s way to redeem himself.

Jesus founded His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  This was revealed to Peter by God Himself.  Jesus recognized that Peter would be a great follower–that he would achieve great things in His name, that he would bring many to God.  Like Peter, Jesus sees great potential in each of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knew Peter would deny Him but He also knew that Peter would further the ministry, leading many to repentance.  He knew that far from denying Him, Peter would glorify Him, teach others about Him even at the risk of persecution and death.

Peter counted it worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41).  Far from denying Him, Peter and the others continued to teach and preach about Jesus though they were commanded not to.  Love for Jesus and his desire to carry out His command to feed His sheep far surpassed any fear Peter might have had.  If we truly love Jesus we should be willing to teach and preach about Him despite the risks, persecution, rejection we may face.  Like Peter and the other disciples we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus no matter what.  Like Andrew and the other disciple, we should seek Him and abide with Him.

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor – Luke 6:12-16

MH900409444When it comes to making big decisions what do you do?  Do you call a friend?  Do you struggle to make a decision?  Do you put off making a decision?  Or do you seek God in prayer?  Before choosing the twelve disciples whom He also named apostles, Jesus sought His Father in prayer and spent all night communing with Him. He had a big decision to make and needed wisdom and guidance.  He was setting an example for us.  When faced with big decisions or life changing situations, we need to go straight to the Source of all wisdom and knowledge.  He knows the beginning and the end and He knows what is best for us.

Prayer is extremely important.  It is our best option when faced with tough choices or trials or problems or challenges.  When Solomon was faced with the daunting task of ruling God’s people after his father died, he sought God in prayer.  It was a beautiful prayer and it even pleased God.  “Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.  Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:9, 10).  Solomon was young and wanted to be an able leader for the people but he knew that he couldn’t do this without God’s help so he appealed to Him to give him the tools he needed to be an effective leader–wisdom and knowledge.

Prayer is our connection to God who cares about us and is ready to provide whatever we ask for.  Jesus encouraged persistent prayer.  He encouraged us to pray in faith, believing that what we ask for we will receive.  Instead of worrying, Paul advises us “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).  Many times I have been overwhelmed by something going on in my life and I turned to God in prayer. In the midst of my anguish, I feel God’s peace come over me, calming me, assuring me that He will get me through this.

Seek God in prayer daily.  Daniel prayed three times a day.  You can pray anywhere and anytime.  As you are sitting on the train on your way to work, you can pray.  As you fix breakfast, you can give God thanks and ask Him to help you get through your day.  You can pray as you walk to the bus-stop or the office.  That’s the beautiful thing about prayer, it is not limited by time or place.  And God is always there, just waiting to hear from you.

Prayer is a privilege we should never take for granted and should always take advantage of.  Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross has made it possible for us to have easy access to God through prayer.  Thanks to Him, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” – Psalm 31:24

Is there any hope?  Yes.  Jesus is our hope for a better life, a life not marred by sin.  Jesus’ death on the Cross gave us hope of having our sins forgiven and having a relationship with God.  Hope for everlasting life—eternal life made possible by Jesus shed blood.  I have hope in the Lord who is faithful and keeps His promises.  I have hope in the Lord because nothing is impossible for Him.  I have hope in the Lord who has plans for my life and who promised that He will guide me.

I have hope in the Lord who never forsakes His children.  I have hope in the Lord who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for my sins.  God has said and done many things to make us hope and when we hope for something it means that we believe they can happen—that they are possible.  God has taught us that anything is possible and that we can do all things through Him.

  • To hope is to have faith that the thing we hope for is not out of our reach.
  • To hope is to be confident that we can achieve anything we set our hearts on.
  • To hope is to believe that we can have what God means for us to have.
  • To hope is to be assured that we can get what God plans to give us.
  • To hope is to be encouraged because it seems that what we dream of is possible, promising.
  • To hope is to trust that it can and will happen.
  • To hope is to expect it to happen.

Hope springs eternal.  To hope is to trust in the Lord, to look on the bright side, to be optimistic.  As Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Hope is the same as faith.  Faith is to believe in that which we cannot see and so is hope.  We don’t know what our futures hold but we can each hope for a bright one.  God promised that He has plans for us so we have those to look forward to and what makes this more exciting is that what God’s plans for us are always beyond our wildest dreams.  Look at how blessed Abraham was after Isaac was born.  He became the father of nations as God promised.  Hannah prayed for a son and was blessed with Samuel and other children.  Leah was blessed with six sons and a daughter and God’s favour.  Ordinary men became great apostles whose gospels and letters we read to give us inspiration and a better insight to who Jesus is.

It is exciting to hope when you read how the lives of these people and others in the Bible changed when they came to know Jesus.  As Paul rightly says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:25)  Hope makes us steadfast and more focused on God.

Knowing who God is and what He has done makes it easy for us to hope in Him.  He is loving, kind, merciful, faithful and compassionate.  In Psalm 145:9, David says that the Lord has compassion on all that He has made.  This is true.  He had compassion on Leah who was unloved by her husband.  He had compassion for Hannah who was barren.  He had compassion for the woman who would have been stoned for committing adultery had He not been there.  God does indeed take care of His children and as long as we hold on to that fact, we will always have something to hope for.

Yesterday on our way to work, I read Matthew 8 and verse 20 caught my attention.  I wanted to reflect on it more.  It states:  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  This was Jesus’ response to a scribe who came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Jesus didn’t say “Follow Me”.  He told him that unlike the foxes and birds who had homes, He didn’t.  Jesus traveled from place to place.  He slept out in the open for the most part and sometimes stayed with friends.  He had no place to call home which makes sense since His kingdom is not on this earth.  He didn’t come to put down roots or to set up a kingdom.  He came to teach, heal and sacrifice Himself.

At first I wasn’t sure what He meant when He answered the man’s request to follow Him so I read some Bible commentaries which helped me tremendously.  Jesus was letting the man know that following Him was not a walk in the park.  It was not a glamorous life.  Discipleship carried with it a cost than not many are willing to pay.  This scribe was making a rash decision.  Was he interested in joining Jesus because of His fame?  Jesus was popular among the crowds.  People flocked to see and listen to Him.  He performed miracles.  He taught with authority that made the people marvel.  Jesus was akin to a celebrity in His day and that may have been what attracted this scribe.

This reminded me of the wife of Zebeedee’s request about her sons sitting on either side of Jesus in His kingdom.  Jesus asked if they were willing to take up the cup.  Do we want the glory but not the price that comes with it?  Peter and the other disciples gave up everything to follow Jesus.  They were in it for the long haul.  When the other disciples deserted Jesus because they couldn’t handle His teachings (John 6:60-69), Peter and the others stayed.  They didn’t take off.  Had this scribe joined Jesus’ ministry, at the first sign of trouble he would have flown the coup.

Jesus wants us to know what we are getting ourselves into.  Remember He knows our hearts.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knew this scribe and that is why He made it clear to him what being one of His disciples entailed.  Jesus’ was all about spiritual things not material things.  He had no riches, no home.  His ministry was supported by the donations of women.  He got around on foot.  Christianity is not about being popular or wearing fancy clothes or driving expensive cars or mansions.  It is about reaching out to people and sharing the Gospel.  Christ is the One who should be in the spotlight not the preacher or the church.

We don’t follow Jesus because it’s the popular thing to do.  We follow Him because we believe in Him and what He did for us on the cross.  We want to spend eternity with Him.  Jesus doesn’t want us to be spontaneous when it comes to following Him like the scribe.  He wants us to think it through, know what discipleship entails and make our decisions based on that.  He wants us to come into this with our eyes wide open and not have preconceived notions of a glamorous life.  We must be serious, not rash when it comes to the decision to follow Jesus.

One Bible commentary referred to the scribe as the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.

Few as there were of the scribes who attached themselves to Jesus, it would appear, from his calling Him Teacher, that this one was a “disciple” in that looser sense of the word in which it is applied to the crowds who flocked after Him, with more or less conviction that His claims were well founded. But from the answer which he received we are led to infer that there was more of transient emotion–of temporary impulse–than of intelligent principle in the speech. The preaching of Christ had riveted and charmed him; his heart had swelled; his enthusiasm had been kindled; and in this state of mind he will go anywhere with Him, and feels impelled to tell Him so.

“Wilt thou?” replies the Lord Jesus. “Knowest thou whom thou art pledging thyself to follow, and whither haply He may lead thee? No warm home, no downy pillow has He for thee: He has them not for Himself. The foxes are not without their holes, nor do the birds of the air lack their nests; but the Son of man has to depend on the hospitality of others, and borrow the pillow whereon He lays His head.”

How affecting is this reply! And yet He rejects not this man’s offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow Him. Only He will have him know what he is doing, and “count the cost.” He will have him weigh well the real nature and the strength of his attachment, whether it be such as will abide in the day of trial. If so, he will be right welcome, for Christ puts none away. But it seems too plain that in this case that had not been done. And so we have called this the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.

It’s true.  Jesus did not reject this man.  He did not tell him that he couldn’t follow Him.  All He did was let him know what the real deal was.  It’s like the rich man who wanted to follow Jesus but when Jesus told Him what he would have to give up, the desire to become a disciple was gone.  He chose his riches over Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t reject us when we want to follow Him but He wants us to examine our motives.

When we look at the other disciples, we see people who were serious about following Jesus.  Peter, Andrew, John and James left their families to join the ministry.  Matthew left his job to follow Jesus and to top it off, he threw a banquet for Jesus and invited his friends so that they too could experience what it was life to meet Jesus.

Don’t be rash in your decision to follow Jesus.  Think about it.  Pray about it.  Ask yourself tough questions.

When I think of the Cross, I think of suffering.  Jesus suffered.  He was bloody, weak and thirsty.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  He was mocked, jeered at, taunted.  He was humiliated.  Instead of being crowned in glory He was wearing a crown of thorns.  Instead of hearing “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” He heard, “We have no other king but Caesar.”

When I think of the Cross, I think of love.  It was His love for God and love for man that made Jesus succumb to the cruellest death imaginable.  Love is the greatest sacrifice ever.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

When I think of the Cross, I think of forgiveness.  In spite of the blinding pain in His body and the ache in His head, Jesus was able to forgive those who wanted Him dead.  He forgave them and asked God to forgive them.  In the face of hatred, love stood its ground.  Love rose above the evil that surrounded the Cross.  God’s goodness and mercy which endures forever were manifest in Christ’s words to His Father, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

When I think of the Cross, I think of God’s amazing grace and His mercy.  It was mercy for a dying, sinful world that prompted God to send His Son to rescue us from death.  It was His mercy that drove Him to send His Son to undo the work of Satan—to free us from the bondage of sin, to bind our wounds, heal us, mend our broken hearts and spirits and to lead us out of darkness and into His marvellous light.

When I think of the Cross I think of a place where I can come regularly and re-examine my life.  It is where I come when I question or doubt God’s love for me.  It is where I come when I need to be reminded of why I should witness to others.  It is where I come when I want to reflect on the love of Jesus for me and for the world.

It is where I come when I need to forgive someone or when I am impressed to help someone I don’t get along with or to love someone who is unlovable.  It is the place where I come when I have to die to self, when I need to crucify the flesh.  It is the place we all need to come to.



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